I love words. Even so, certain words trip me up every time I need them. 

Confession: Throughout my early adult years, I misspelled congratulations—congrad-ulations. When the popular shortened version ‘congrats’ came into use, I had an embarrassing ah-ha moment. 

Almost everyone has a word that stumps them. For years, when my husband wrote out the bills, he would yell, “How do you spell forty?” 

The word games Quiddler, Boggle, and Scrabble can lead to questions like, “Ax or axe?” Both spellings are acceptable. And a blazing fire is spelled fiery, not firey. After awhile, common words look strange. I just Googled a while versus awhile. 

In first grade, my class was introduced to ITA—Initial Teaching Alphabet. In 1965, (it still exists) ITA was an experimental reading method based on a 44-letter phonetic alphabet.

Little ol’ me in a newspaper article about the ITA program
I wrote this and can’t even read it!

ITA hoped to shield the new reader from the myriad of inconsistent spellings in the English language.

My teacher did her best, but gave up by 1966.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I already knew how to read. The new-fangled ITA was like learning a new unnecessary language.

First book. The Gingerbread Man!

If kids can’t pronounce a word correctly, they will have trouble spelling it. Pasgetti, amblance, aminal, and lellow. 😊

One day my principal explained that he was my ‘pal.’ I’ve never mixed-up principal with principle since. (I was in his office enough to learn that lesson.)

Anyone who studies English as a second language is brave. So many rules. So often broken—‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’—what about weird, caffeine, seize, etc.?

My Reflection last month was titled, “I Love/Loath Technology.” Apparently, ‘loath’ is an adjective. Add an ‘e’ and loathe becomes a verb. I’m still confused.

I devour books and television dramas that originate from the U.K. Thankfully, my writing critique buddies catch my spelling replacements. Grey, gray—theatre, theater.

Friends and family told me they struggle with these words on a regular basis—restaurant, camouflage, chlorine, claustrophobia, marriage, niece, desperate, separate, calendar, rhythm, recommend—the list goes on.

Recently, my husband had shoulder surgery. I texted my daughter to say he was a real trooper. I changed it to trouper. Neither one looked write right.  😩

What word or words make you think twice?


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